Whether you exercise for fitness, to lose weight, or to build muscle mass, it needs to routine and regular. In fact, when your workout time becomes part of your life instead of a chore — you will see real changes. How often you should train turns into how often can I train.
Of course, if you are just starting out, your schedule will depend a lot on how active you’ve been up until now. It’s easy for most of us to start out with zeal and create problems for ourselves. However, doing too much too soon can lead to injury! But, no matter what, the best results of any exercise program will be to workout 3 times a week.
The problem most beginners have is sore muscles that set them back at first. So doing too much, and sometimes too often, when you’re just starting can lead to not wanting to continue on with your workouts. You don’t want to do either.
You don’t want to be sore with muscles on fire from lactic acid any more than you want to get over that and decide exercising with weights is just not for you?
4 areas to consider when it comes to how often to workout
1) Overall exercise frequency
This refers to the number of times total that you will work out in a week. It includes weight, cardio and muscle groups exercised.
When planning your workout frequency, keep this rule-of-thumb in mind: take one day off from all exercise and workouts each week to give your body time to recover and repair itself. With the right routine, it won’t be any time before you start building noticeable muscle.
If not, you’ll significantly increase your risk for an injury; one that could sideline you for weeks if not months.
For most people new to exercising, working out three times a week is a good place to start. And don’t work the same muscle groups for two consecutive days. Most people start out differentiating arm days, leg days, and maybe through a cardio day in.
Once you are more experienced, you can increase your workout time to five days per week and eventually six. Experienced weight lifters often workouts into things like bicep days, shoulder days, glute days, and so on. Always remembering to alternate muscles to different days.
2) Weight training
The theory behind weight training is that it builds muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn – even at rest.
If you’ve got serious bodybuilding on your mind, expect it to take time. Not only will you need to learn to adjust your life around working out several times a week, but also the right diet. Training for building muscle requires devotion to nutrition to increase muscle size as well as having the energy to pursue your goals.
If just starting out, keep your resistance training days to two per week. And never make your two days back-to-back. Your body needs at least one day in between weight training sessions to rest.
As time goes on, if you feel you need more weight training time, bump up your workouts to three or four times per week. By the time you have gradually worked your way up to 3 or 4 times a week, you should be well aware of how often to work out and how often to rest.
3) Cardio training
The purpose of cardio training is to burn calories and to increase your breathing and heart rate. By being able to take in more oxygen and get it to the cells more efficiently, your body can create energy faster.
Check out these popular gadgets to keep up with heart rate, calories, and much more while you’re doing cardio or other exercising.
Personally, I like doing cardio on off days from weight training. This gives me the opportunity to get back to the gym, not to mention that by the time I’m through with weights, I’m too beat for cardio.
So do yourself a favor and alternate cardio and resistance training. If you can’t, be sure to do resistance first, or you won’t have enough energy to get any value from cardio.
4) Muscle group frequency
Different exercises work different muscle groups. When first starting out, you’ll want to work each muscle group once a week.
For example, your workout for one week could be:
- Monday: Chest and triceps
- Tuesday: Back and biceps
- Wednesday: off
- Thursday: Shoulders and abs
- Friday: Legs
- Saturday: off
- Sunday: off
The next week your schedule could look like this:
- Monday: Chest, shoulders, and triceps
- Tuesday: off
- Wednesday: Legs and abs
- Thursday: off
- Friday: Back and biceps
- Saturday: off
- Sunday: off
On week three you would go back to the week one schedule. Then keep rotating through the two schedules alternating each week.
This is a good schedule to work with whether you’re aiming for mass and definition, or just want to get fit and tone up.
Keep in mind that the muscle groups worked could be either from cardio or weight training.
For example, running or walking would work your legs, while swimming would also benefit your shoulders. Do a variety of both resistance training and cardio to work each major muscle group evenly.
First of all, decide what you expect to gain from your workouts. Next decide what you are willing to learn and what to give up to work in your training days. Once you know where you want to go with your exercise you will know how often you intend to workout.
My best advice is to start slow, and finish strong!